Good fish stock is increasingly available at seafood and other specialty markets. Buy it in small containers and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 leek, white and light green portions, halved, washed and thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juices
1 1/2 cups fish stock
1 cup dry red or white wine
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 lb. firm white fish fillets such as halibut, cut into 1-inch chunks
18 small mussels or clams, well scrubbed
6 oz. fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments
Cook the vegetables
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leek and fennel and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the fish stock, wine and thyme. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the seafood
Add the fish and mussels to the pan, discarding any mussels that do not close to the touch. Cover and simmer until the mussels open and the fish is just opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the crabmeat and simmer for 1 minute to heat through. Ladle the stew into shallow bowls, discarding any mussels that failed to open, and serve immediately. Serves 4.